America’s most cherished dating pastime, of course, is movie night, an experience that almost any couple who has gone on at least three dates will engage in. There’s nothing better than loading up on an sweet assortment of awful things that will slowly kill you, hot or alcoholic beverages, and curling up on the couch awkwardly to watch a movie while you ignore your arm falling asleep underneath you because you’re in the exact perfect position to simultaneously watch the movie and look down her blouse.
Movie night, however, can often be fraught with tension, whether it takes place on a third date or a random night seven years into your marriage. That tension is often concentrated around what movie to watch, and a great responsibility here falls upon the decision maker, who can either be the hero or the guy who goes home with the consolation high-five. But it’s not just about the movie you choose, it’s also about the way in which you present it.
There’s little more satisfying in the world than to be able to introduce a movie to your partner that he or she loves, to take credit for an immensely pleasurable or entertaining two hours, or to watch her bawl her fool eyes out at the end of a particularly emotional climax. That feels good. But there’s also a sinister downside: Introduce her to just one movie that she hates, and no matter how many positive recommendations are in your track record, it’ll be that negative experience she returns to every. single. time. the decision falls upon you to choose a movie again.
So, how do you do it? How do you introduce a loved one to one of your favorite films and ensure a positive movie-night experience? Herein are a few tips, not in what movie to choose, but in the etiquette of watching a chosen movie with a loved one.
Make It About the Other Person
First of all, if you have a particular movie in mind that you’d like to introduce to your loved one, when trying to convince her to watch it, don’t try to sell her the line, “It’s one of my favorite movies.” It’s not about you, jackass. At least, not if you want to get the most out the movie-night experience. And, especially, if you’re in a debate about who gets to choose the movie. “It’s one of my favorite movies,” can easily be countered with, “But this is one of my favorite movies,” and then it turns into a character assassination: “Yeah, but that shitty _________ is also one of your favorite movies, so why should I trust you?”
Instead, sell her on the qualities about the movie that she might enjoy. If it has that guy from that movie she loves, make sure to mention it. If it might remind her of a movie you know she likes, tell her that, too. Make it as much as possible about her interests, and not yours. Otherwise, she’s already going into the experience with the mindset that she’s going to be watching “another one of his movies.”
Don’t Be a Movie Pusher
Listen, I know there are some instances where you really want your significant other to watch a particular movie that you want her to see and you’re absolutely convinced that she will love it, but she’s really not interested in that title and nothing you can say will persuade her otherwise. Don’t push it on her. That’s an uphill battle. Even if you do convince her to watch it, she’ll go in resentful. She’ll try not to like it because you were a pushy asshole. Let it go. Save it for another night, one of those double feature movie swaps: “I’ll watch yours, if you watch mine” kind of evenings.
Don’t Oversell It
Likewise, don’t oversell a movie in order to convince her to see it. If it’s a good, but not great movie, be upfront about it. Leave the hyperbole to film critics and fanboys. Don’t sell her on something that the movie can’t possibly deliver. Don’t set her up for disappointment. Don’t overhype. Don’t ruin the movie with advance marketing. Sell it with the least amount of effort possible. If you can get away with, “I really think you’ll like this movie, it makes me think of you,” then stick with that. She’ll love it even more if you undersell a great film.
If All Else Fails, Go with the Caper
This is not a movie recommendation post. But, if you’re trying to impress someone, and you don’t have a particular movie in mind or if you don’t know her well enough to sell the movie to her based on her interests, a good caper or heist film almost never fails. There aren’t a lot of great heist films around, but the best ones appeal to all demographitics: Male/female, young/old, smart/dumb, Notebook fan or Lord of the Rings fan. A great heist film works every time. It gets her involved. It pulls her in. It makes her think. But they’re also fun and immensely satisfying. I recommend one of the 15 from TK’s list of Best Heist Films, in addition to maybe The Sting or Brothers Bloom or The Third Man (I also have a soft spot for both Thomas Crown Affair movies). If he or she is on the pretentious side, go with Rififi. That’ll wow her. If she’s not into highbrow, don’t go with Rififi. It’ll just piss her off. Don’t be a pretentious douche.
Don’t Talk During the Movie
I know, you’re going to have a huge desire to preface all the brilliant scenes with, “Ooooh. I love this part,” or “this part coming up is great,” or “you have to see this next scene.” Don’t do that. It’s irritating as hell. Just because you’re in your living room and not a movie theater doesn’t give you the right to talk over the movie. Save it for the post-movie discussion, when you ask her what your favorite scene is first, before volunteering your own.
Don’t F*cking Pause the Film
You’ve already seen it. If you have to use the restroom or grab a drink, unless it’s a crucial scene, don’t pause the film or ruin the flow. You may not get that flow back. If she needs a beverage or snack, get up and get it for her. Don’t let the movie leave her mind space. And I don’t care if it is your own living room, don’t text or check your email during movie night. It’s rude.
And whatever you do … and this is important … don’t pause the goddamn film to catch her up on what you’ve already seen. Don’t pause the movie to ask, “So, who do you think the killer is?” Don’t pause the movie to ask, “What do you think so far?” Let her experience the movie the way you presumably experienced it: Without some chatter-mouth asshole pausing it every 30 seconds to explain something or preface an upcoming scene.
Don’t Make Any Bold Sexual Moves During the Movie
Wait? She’s never seen The Princess Bride and you decide to slip a hand under her skirt during the fencing duel between Westley and Inigo? What the fuck is wrong with you? The handjobs and fingerbangs can wait until after the movie.
The Post Movie Discussion
So, you held your tongue, you didn’t pause the movie half a dozen times, and you didn’t try to go down on her during a pivotal scene. And you can tell from her reaction that she loved the film. Congratulations. Now, don’t ruin it. Never, ever … and I repeat, ever let the first thing you say be, “I told you that you’d love it!” The second you do that, the movie will always be one of your favorite movies that she watched with you, and it can never be “one of our favorite movies.” It’s also a dickish thing to say. To the extent that is possible, let him or her have some ownership of the film. She’ll always remember who introduced it to her, and you’ll always get that credit, so there’s no need to remind her. Instead of, “I told you that you’d love it,” how about, “What did you like about it?” Let her claim ownership of a few scenes before you smear your opinion over the entire film. And then say something like, “I’m really glad you liked it.”
Introducing a great movie to a loved one can be as valuable as a great gift. Treat them that way. You don’t say, “You’re going to love this present,” and then, after she opens it, say “I told you that you’d love it!” Let the present speak for itself. Movies are a shared experience. Don’t be a selfish movie watcher.